The Fall 2016 season has begun and we have already had quite a number of season premieres with plenty more on the way (see how to keep up with all of this year’s shows at this link). And of course Cancelled Sci Fi will be putting out the ratings numbers on a regular basis to let you know how many people are tuning in to these shows (here and at our Twitter site). But in the current ratings-pocalypse era brought on by the ever-fractured television landscape, it is getting more difficult to determine what these numbers are telling us as far as the status of the shows. For example, FOX’s Gotham had its third season bow this past Monday with a 1.3 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic. A year ago, those numbers would have looked very low, though not necessarily disastrous, and a year before that they would have assured cancellation. But this year, it’s hard to determine what those numbers mean at this point. We need to put them in perspective which is exactly what I do with the Cancellation Watch Scorecard.
For the broadcast nets, the Scorecard measures a show against the average of non-sports, non-special, non-repeat programming on the network it airs. That provides a benchmark to gauge how a show is performing vs. the other programming on its network. My logic is a little different from that used by the TV by the Numbers Renew/Cancel Index and TV Grim Reaper’s system because they use only scripted programming in their comparison stats. But I include reality shows and news programs and the like because those could be viable replacements for a scripted series (and I believe that when the bubble does burst on the Too-Much-TV Era there will be a scramble for lower cost reality / news shows to fill up holes on the schedule). This logic is unchanged from last season and it did a pretty good job of predicting whether a show would be cancelled or renewed. The Scorecard had a few misses, but mostly it was on the mark. And since the broadcast nets are still ratings driven (despite what they will tell you), I believe this system will continue to work this year (but as the landscape continues to change, it could become less effective).
For the cable channels, the logic above does not work as well because typically there are not enough shows to provide a decent measurement sampling. So last year the Scorecard for those shows was mostly subjective, but this year I am making a change. I have come up with a benchmark for most of the cable channels that looks at the lowest level at which a show is typically renewed by that network. I am doing it this way because sometimes there are non-ratings factors tied to a cable show that might keep it on the air like international financing and/or partnerships. Also, there can be a pretty big disparity in the ratings for cable shows. Take AMC as a good example. The Walking Dead had a 6.8 average last year, Fear the Walking Dead had a 2.8 average, Into the Badlands had a 1.9 average, Preacher had a 0.6 average, and Humans had a 0.4 average. Yet all of those were renewed. The Walking Dead I am throwing out because it counts as an outlier. Humans I am throwing out because it came as part of an international partnership and performed very well over in Britain (I believe it would have been cancelled if it had to rely on its U.S. ratings). The average of the three left is skewed too high, so I am going with Preacher as the approximate level a show could get renewed at by AMC. And seeing as a 0.6 rating is still considered decent for a cable entry these days, that looks like a safe benchmark. The measuring point will vary by network and may not be as reliable for some because of the small number of genre shows it has aired. But I will be trying it out this year with some possible adjustments at mid-season if necessary.
In the chart below, I have a look-back at last season’s shows including the Summer cable entries to help test the new cable benchmark (but not the broadcast net Summer shows because they are a class to themselves). You can see that their final status is mostly in line with each show’s rank on the scorecard and renewal / cancellation status, though a few might require some qualification. The first to show up as cancelled is CBS entry Angel from Hell at Number 33, which probably would have been renewed if it aired on one of the other broadcast nets (CBS seemed to have it in for that show because they yanked after only five episodes and its numbers weren’t that bad). Next is Syfy’s Hunters at 36 which barely registered in the ratings but shows up higher on the list due to the narrow measurement band for that channel. That is followed by Limitless at Number 41 which is another show that sci fi-averse CBS gave little mercy to. And The CW’s Containment at Number 42 got squeezed out of its network’s over-crowded schedule. Below that, almost all the shows were cancelled or renewed only for a final season. The CW’s The Originals and ABC’s Agents of SHIELD survived because they made it through the syndication stretch. And the FOX shows lower on the list survived because that network was struggling overall and has slots to fill on this year’s schedule with American Idol not coming back.
I will be posting the first Fall edition of the Scorecard next week, though it is still early so expect some shifting as the schedule settles. But this will give you a good idea of where your favorite shows stand in relation to their networks’ performance and whether or not they have to worry about potentially being sent for a date with the Network Executioner.
Final Scorecard for the 2015-16 Season Shows:
|Rank (PW)||Series||Net||Std Avg||Net Bench||Var||Live+3 Avg Rtg||Final Status|
|1||The Walking Dead||AMC||6.48||0.60||5.88||n/a||Renewed|
|2||Game of Thrones||HBO||3.85||0.60||3.25||n/a||Renewed|
|3||The X-Files (O)||FOX||3.17||1.45||1.71||n/a||Likely Renewal|
|4||Fear the Walking Dead||AMC||1.96||0.60||1.36||n/a||Renewed|
|5||Into the Badlands||AMC||1.79||0.60||1.19||n/a||Renewed|
|6||American Horror Story||FX||1.49||0.60||0.89||n/a||Renewed|
|7||The Flash (O)||CW||1.37||0.61||0.76||n/a||Renewed|
|9||Legends of Tomorrow (O)||CW||0.80||0.61||0.19||n/a||Renewed|
|15||The Shannara Chronicles||MTV||0.39||0.30||0.09||n/a||Renewed|
|17||Star Wars Rebels||DXD||0.15||0.10||0.05||n/a||Renewed|
|23||The Last Ship||TNT||0.51||0.50||0.01||n/a||Renewed|
|24||Guardians of the Galaxy||DXD||0.10||0.10||0.00||n/a||Renewed|
|29||Ash vs Evil Dead||STARZ||0.16||0.20||-0.04||n/a||Renewed|
|30||Once Upon A Time (O)||ABC||1.36||1.43||-0.07||n/a||Renewed|
|34||Angel from Hell (O)||CBS||1.42||1.52||-0.10||n/a||Cancelled|
|37||The 100 (O)||CW||0.48||0.61||-0.13||n/a||Renewed|
|38||Vampire Diaries (O) (F)||CW||0.46||0.61||-0.14||n/a||Renewed|
|43||The Originals (O) (F)||CW||0.39||0.61||-0.22||n/a||Renewed|
|44||The Leftovers||HBO||0.33||0.60||-0.27||n/a||Final Season|
|45||The Last Man on Earth (O)||FOX||1.16||1.45||-0.30||n/a||Renewed|
|46||Orphan Black||BBCA||0.10||0.40||-0.30||n/a||Final Season|
|47||Heroes Reborn (O)||NBC||1.21||1.51||-0.30||n/a||Cancelled|
|49||Agents of SHIELD (O)||ABC||1.10||1.43||-0.33||n/a||Renewed|
|50||Scream Queens (O)||FOX||1.00||1.45||-0.45||n/a||Renewed|
|51||Person of Interest||CBS||1.01||1.52||-0.51||n/a||Cancelled|
|52||Grimm (O) (F)||NBC||0.90||1.51||-0.61||n/a||Final Season|
|53||Agent Carter (O)||ABC||0.80||1.43||-0.63||n/a||Cancelled|
|54||Sleepy Hollow (O) (F)||FOX||0.82||1.45||-0.63||n/a||Renewed|
|56||Minority Report (O)||FOX||0.71||1.45||-0.74||n/a||Cancelled|
|58||Second Chance (O) (F)||FOX||0.65||1.45||-0.81||n/a||Cancelled|
|59||You Me and the Apocalypse||NBC||0.69||1.51||-0.82||n/a||Cancelled|
Rank (PW): Current rank based on the variance of a show’s season to date ratings average vs. its network’s benchmark (see definition below). The number in parenthesis is the prior week’s rank.
Series: (O) indicates the show is owned/produced by the network and/or a sister studio. (F) indicates the show airs on Friday when ratings expectations are lower. These typically just apply to the broadcast networks where they are more of a factor.
StD Avg: The show’s season to date ratings average based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic.
Net Bench (Network Benchmark): For the broadcast networks, this is the net’s season to date average rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic for non-sports, non-special, non-repeat broadcasts. For the cable channels, this is the lowest level at which a show is typically renewed by that network if there are enough genre entries on that channel to provide a decent sample.
Variance: The variance between a show’s season to date average and the network benchmark as defined above. The higher the variance, the better a show is performing vs. the network mean.
Live+3 Avg Rtg: The show’s season to date ratings average based on delayed viewing up to three days past the live broadcast. This data is not available for all shows. Last year I had the Live+7 delayed viewing, but the availability of that data was very spotty so I am shifting to this metric.
Cancel Alert: My prediction of the likelihood that a show will get cancelled. From least to most likely the statuses are Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, and High.